Don't Stand So Close To Me
Tamara Dever, author of a new book, I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie, has written a special “letter-post” to followers of the Jennifer Chronicles: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Generation X blog and Facebook page. It’s a delightful missive and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I also hope you will check out her book. It is really terrific! I’m publishing a full review of it on Wednesday (September 2, 2020), which I will cross-share in my monthly newsletter.
If 2020’s got you singing All By Myself and Don’t Stand So Close To Me (lol), this book is the Magic Carpet Ride you need. It will zoom you through trivia, brainteasers, quizzes, crossword puzzles, and many songs you’ll (sort of) recognize. It features 100+ fun facts about classic rock and pop bands, songs, and their literary ties; more than 100 fill-in-the-blank style quiz questions and crossword puzzles, and 23 songs with remastered lyrics that will cause contagious laughter. I think it’s the perfect gift for the Gen-Xer in your life.
Last year I turned 50—50! How on earth did that happen? Just a few years ago I was in college, hanging with friends, pulling all-nighters, and going to campus dances every weekend. These days I still hang with friends, wonder how I ever pulled all-nighters while I’m yawning at 8 pm, and go to our kids’ ’80s-themed dances to chaperone. Or maybe so I can relive some of my younger days. Yes, I won a costume contest at our daughter’s school dance dressed like Joan Jett, though the youngster teachers announced me as Jem (from the cartoon). I’ve never even seen that cartoon, but I did not look like her. Silly youngsters.
You see, I’m a little obsessed with the ’80s—especially the music. A lot, actually. Our kids are 15 and 9 and they know an unusual amount of ’80s music. The youngest will shout out “Buster Pointdexter” when “Hot, Hot, Hot” comes on the radio and she can pick out songs by Queen, Journey, Prince, and Billy Joel extraordinarily well. This makes me proud. The family is so used to my blurting out song titles and lyrics as part of everyday conversation that they’ve stopped making a big deal of it. My husband is now doing it on his own. I’m so proud! As a storm was heading our way a few months ago, lightning struck nearby and without batting an eyelash, our daughter, 9, blurts out, “thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me.” Yet another proud moment. They’re used to me donning my crazy spike-haired wig and bright ’80s makeup any time a dance or appropriate event pops up. Every year I throw an epic costume party for my birthday, teaching our younger friends about good music and good movies. I take tests for fun. Well, they’re music lyric quizzes, but I’ve been doing them for years and egging my friends to join me in shouting out answers or banging our heads trying to remember what we’re sure we know and should be easy. We get started and can’t stop.
I wear a different band or retro movie-themed T-shirt every day, some of which I designed. My wallet is a candy tin that looks like a cassette. My phone case looks like a cassette. My pool floatie looks like—you guessed it—a cassette. I got a new turntable for Christmas and my dual-cassette boombox is in my home office. With cassettes. You probably get the picture by now. I’m a serious ’80s geek.
In school, I was the brain and a bit of a geek—not popular, not unpopular. Today, at 50, I’ve finally embraced the title. It’s who I am. For years I wondered if God would someday show me how to capitalize on this retro-music craze. One day about five years ago, out of the blue, I began to rewrite a popular song so its lyrics now had to do with book publishing. I’m a book designer of 25 years, so the theme made sense. It made me laugh out loud. It made my coworkers laugh, too. The songs kept coming for two weeks non-stop. It was bizarre! My company, TLC Book Design, attends a big publishing conference each year and with divine help, I was able to have a talented friend record a couple of my parodies for the conference organizer to play before each keynote address. The attendees laughed. We became the unofficial music sponsor of the event and the title continues.
Endorsement: Martha Quinn, Former MTV VJ
Still, I wondered if there would ever be a way to monetize this “useless” knowledge. Almost against my will at first, God led me last fall to put all 23 parodies into a book, then create various quizzes, crossword puzzles, and trivia pages that became the 112-page I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie. It was a ton of fun to write and design although it felt like it created itself sometimes. I planned to launch it at that very publishing conference last April and was fully prepared to own every minute of the dorkdom that it might bring, but then…Covid. After a brief bout of tears, I decided that being quarantined would make people need the laughter and nostalgia brought on by my book, so I launched it early. The Saturday I should’ve been at the conference, the most glorious thing happened. It’s a great story, but the short of it is that God set me up again. I felt like he was a happy dad who’d just given his daughter an unexpected gift. I connected directly with THE Martha Quinn, original MTV VJ and she loved my book so much that she asked to set up an interview for her radio show on iHeart80s. I got to talk with Martha Quinn! Ahh! And then, SHE. ENDORSED. MY. BOOK. No way. Yes way!
I’m a total ’80s geek. Yup. So is Martha Quinn. I’m in good company.
Connect With Tamara
Tamara Dever is the owner of TLC Book Design and author of two books including, I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie: Totally Choice Color Edition! She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, two kids, and a very cute-but-clingy dog named Kai. Connect with her at TLCBookDesign.com, TotallyCool80s.com and on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
People are complaining because they get stuck reading "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" instead of doing what they should be doing. I say, turn on the retro tunes and read away! https://t.co/KtOI2b65sF#80smusic #80squiz #70smusic #TC80s pic.twitter.com/FsjyxZ32Af
— Tamara Dever (@TLCBookDesign) August 17, 2020
P.S. Mix Tape
PS: I’m spending this summer writing a new music trivia book called Ultimate Mix Tape. On the front cover is…wait for it…a cassette. –Tamara